Companies monitoring employees isn’t a new phenomenon. Henry Ford did it way back in 1913, albeit a little bit intrusively for today’s standards. Then we got punch cards and surveillance cameras. But nowadays, it’s the era of a fully digital screen monitoring software.


But how did it come about? What changes in our society and the way we work resulted in creating the opportunity and the necessity for monitoring PC activity? And why does it seem to be getting more and more popular?


With these questions in mind, we’re going to embark on a little educational journey through history and sociology, on which we’ll discuss some major technological and socio-economic circumstances that gave rise to the phenomenon that is screen monitoring software.


Economic and Corporate Growth


One of the most significant factors that created the need to figure out how to monitor employees was the sheer fact that there suddenly began being more of them. What started with the First Industrial Revolution has only been continuing in trend - our ability to produce more, buy more, do more and hire more. With the 19th-century emergence of free trade and globalization, the world was shaped to what it is to become centuries later.


Now we have large corporations and enterprises, divided among multiple offices, often located in several different countries. These companies have thousands of employees. A number this high is impossible to oversee without some kind of software to monitor PC activity.


The economic growth was also followed by the increased level of general education and ultimately branching into many different distinct specialties and industry niches. Now, not only is it difficult to monitor the large number of employees, but it’s also a challenge to have a universal criteria according to which their performance will be tracked and screen monitoring software has proven to accommodate this need with its productivity measuring features.


The Digital Revolution


On to the Third Industrial Revolution, which brought computerization and automation into our workplace. Aside from the fact that the advances in technology enabled screen monitoring software to be born, these rapid changes in the way we work created a demand for such a system.


Take a simple matter of logistics. A lot of jobs are computer-based these days. Architects work on computers, journalists work on computers, and so do designers and software developers and probably hundreds of other job positions. And guess what? Distractions are now digital, too.


So, while back in the days you could simple cast a glance around a room full of accountants and immediately see who’s typing out or sorting documents and who’s reading newspapers, now it’s not that easy to tell. At a quick glance, working in Word and reading CNN online looks exactly the same. Which is why desktop activity monitor is needed.


Another issue that digitalization brought about is the fact that nearly all of company data and confidential documents are stored on computers. This created a need to secure this digital data and monitor how it’s accessed, used and shared.


Competitive Market


Maybe you’ve noticed that almost every marketsphere today is competitive. If you want to learn something today, you can. If you want to start a company, you can. If you want to get bigger, hire more people and go international, (with a bit of effort, dedication and luck) you can. Capitalism is great, isn’t it?


But because everyone is predisposed to succeed, it means everyone will try to. But, of course, not everyone will actually make it. And it’s not a matter of how many people you can get, or what technology you use. Even the quality of work may not be the deciding factor. It’s all about optimized business processes and employee productivity.


Optimizing the workload and getting your employees to be more productive is what gives companies a competitive advantage. This is something that only screen monitoring software data can give you sufficiently accurate and objective insights to accomplish.


The Rise of Telecommuting


One last major factor we’re going to discuss here is the increase in the opportunities for remote work. Technically, remote work was born in the 70’s, even before the internet, but it really started to boom at the dawn of this century. Now, about 70% of employees work remotely at least once a week and there are numerous companies that are fully remote.


So now it’s not only a question of how to monitor PC activity, but how to monitor PC activity remotely. And therefore, the need for a reliable yet unobtrusive way to track the performance of telecommuters was solved with employee screen monitoring.


A Peek Into the Future


It’s clear how past social and technological changes led to such popularity of screen monitoring software, but what does the future hold? We’ve stepped into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where cloud computing, Big Data, RPA and similar technologies are beginning to emerge and shape the way we work and live. Considering such a degree of automation and inter-device communication in the workplace, with further advancements and new features being added to it, user activity monitoring software fits right in.


Kronos Humanity Timeclockplus Tsheets Wheniwork Deputy Replicon Jibble EbilityTimeTracker OnTheClock
OVERVIEW
Price (per month)Available upon requestFrom $2 per userAvailable upon requestFrom $6.40 per user + $16Free for up to 75 usersFrom $2.50 per userBasic plan: $30 for 5 users + $5 per additional userFrom $1.50 per employeeFrom $4 per user + $8From $2.20 per user
Free trial30 days14 daysYes14 days14 days14 days30 days
Ease of useDifficultEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasyDifficultVery easyEasyEasy
FEATURES
Timecard management
Scheduling
Shift Trading
Timesheets
Break time management
Real-time tracking
PTO Management
Payroll
Invoicing
Client billing
GPS tracking
Clock out reminders
Alerts
Manual time
PUNCH-IN METHODS
Web app
Mobile app
Time clock device
Time clock kiosk
Facial recognition
Fingerprint scanning
Geofencing
Group punch-in
REPORTING
Visual reports
Email reports
Time rounding
MANAGEMENT
Permissions
Manager approvals
Add time for others
Integrations
PLATFORMS
Web
Android app
iOS app
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app
OTHER
SupportPhone and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, chat and onlinePhone and chatEmail and onlineChat and phonePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and onlinePhone, email, chat and onlinePhone and online
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Community forum
API
Workpuls Hubstaff Toggl TimeDoctor Harvest TimeCamp Timely Everhour Tick TMetric
OVERVIEW
Price (per month) $6 per user $5.83 per user $9 per user $9.99 per user $10.80 per user $5.25 per user $99 for 5 users $7 per user $19 for 10 projects $5 per user
Free trial 7 days 14 days 30 days 14 days 30 days Yes 14 days 14 days 30 days 30 days
Ease of use Very easy Difficult Difficult Very easy Easy Very easy Easy Difficult Very easy Difficult
TIME TRACKING METHODS
Manual
Start/stop buttons
Automatic time mapping
IN-DEPTH TASK AND PROJECT ANALYSIS
Sreenshots
App and website usage
Activity levels coming soon
Real-time tracking
TASK AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project adding
Project templates
Project status
Task assignment
Task priorities
Budgeting coming soon
Mark billable/non-billable hours
Payroll calculation
Invoicing
ALERTS
Idle time reminders
Deadline alerts coming soon
Budget alerts coming soon
REPORTING
Client login
Productivity analysis
Email reports coming soon
PLATFORMS
Web
Mac desktop app
Windows desktop app
Linux desktop app coming soon
iOS app Beta
Android app
Browser extension Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome Chrome, Firefox Chrome Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Edge
OTHER
Support Phone and online Email and online Email and online Online Online, email and phone Email, online and support ticket Email and chat Email and chat Email Chat
Knowledge base
Video tutorials
Integrations coming soon
API
On-premise hosting

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